Educational Licence Policy - Lobster / Rock Crab


In this policy:

Charter boat
is any vessel with Transport Canada Marine Safety inspection certificate for a passenger ship.
is the administrative management areas of the Gulf Region (Gulf New Brunswick, Gulf Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).
is Homarus americanus.
Rock crab
is Cancer irroratus.


Charter boat excursions promoting the "lobster fishing experience" are very popular with tourists. To address the increasing number of educational lobster licence requests received by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a pilot project was conducted in 1995, followed by the publication of a final report containing the recommendations for the implementation of the licence. The number of requests received in the last few years shows again, an increased interest in these licences. This policy will enable us to issue these licences and allow us to effectively and efficiently manage this activity. This endeavour, while promoting tourism, public education on the biology, the populations and the commercial lobster fishery also offers options to diversify the economic opportunities of communities, which, in turn will support the protection and conservation of the species.


The purpose of this policy is to clearly identify the requirements, conditions, eligibility, and the application procedures that will need to be followed in order to take advantage of this privilege. This policy will also allow for the collection of information, via logbooks, that will enable the department to better understand the charter boat operations.

This policy will apply to charter boat operators wishing to familiarize their clientele with fishing practices, populations, as well as conservation and protection issues as it relates to lobster and rock crab.

Resource Conservation:

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a primary responsibility for the conservation and protection of marine species and their habitat. Aside from establishing fishery management plans, developing conservation and protection policies and implementing programs to provide for the sustainable use of Canada's marine resources, we can promote activities that will support and enable improved understanding of the species among the general public. Some of those activities are:

  • 1. Education:

    This policy is designed to enhance knowledge in lobster and rock crab biology, their populations as well as the commercial fishery among the general public. The charter boat tours will promote the educational value of the fishery and demonstrate lobster and rock crab fishing practices. The emphasis of presentations by the charter boat operators will be to sensitize the public to lobster and rock crab populations and environmental dynamics, conservation and protection issues, and promoting the lobster and rock crab product.
  • 2. Promote Tourism:

    This policy will diversify existing tourism programs by expanding the product base for core fishers, aboriginal organizations and charter boat operators. This contribution to the viability of the charter boat operations will expand tourism opportunities, with associated spin-offs in neighbouring communities where they might not otherwise exist.
  • 3. Diversify Economic Opportunities:

    This policy will offer expanded economic opportunities for existing core fishers, aboriginal organization and charter boat operators by providing a means of revenue outside the regular lobster fishing activities, as well as adding this activity to the possible list of existing excursions for the charter boat operators.


This policy will apply to charter boat operators requesting an educational licence for lobster and rock crab fishing demonstration excursions. The validity period of the licence will be specified in the conditions of each licence.


In order to be considered for this licence, a person must:

  • Possess an "inspection certificate for a passenger ship" issued by Transport Canada Marine Safety and
  • Have had an educational licence in the previous year, or
  • Be a core fisher, or
  • Be a charter boat operator or
  • Be a First Nation or a Native Council (aboriginal organization).

Access will be authorized for one year.
Applicants need to reapply for the licence each year.
Renewals will be at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' discretion, pending
evaluation of the previous year's operations.


This policy is applicable to the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Designated areas of operation will be described in each licence.

Applications shall be made by completing this online form: Licence Application Form, or by contacting the Gulf Region’s Licensing Division.


Licences will be issued pursuant to Section 52 of the Fishery (General) Regulations.


  • 1. Charter boat operations must not interfere with commercial fishing operations.
  • 2. All pertinent information, including daily logbooks, resulting from charter operation, must be made available to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans immediately upon request. A maximum of two (2) lobster and one (1) rock crab traps, in which the entrances must be blocked in a way that the trap is NOT functional, may be employed in the charter operation. Each trap must be tagged with a valid tag issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The local DFO Fishery Officer must approve of each trap's location. Trap tags must be consistent with requirements outlined in the sections 56 and 62 of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985.
  • 3. Lobster and rock crab required for demonstration purposes must be purchased or obtained from a legal source and deposited in the trap. Proof of purchase may be required, at any time, by Fishery Officers for verification purposes. A licence pursuant to Section 7 of the Fisheries Act (permission to transport fish) must be obtained and complied with.
  • 4. Live lobster brought from shore to cook for consumption on board will not be authorized. Cooked lobster may be purchased for consumption. Proof of purchase may be required at any time from Fishery Officers.
  • 5. A sign must be prominently displayed on board explaining that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' requirements do not authorize the retention of any lobster/rock crab from the trap. All lobster/rock crab must be returned to the ocean or left in the trap for demonstration purposes only. (To be defined).
  • 6. All fish caught incidentally under the authority of this licence, shall forthwith be returned to the place from which it was taken; and where it is alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. (S33 (2a, b) of the Fisheries (General) Regulations).
  • 7. At least one person employed with the Charter Boat (i.e. captain, helper) should have a general knowledge of the lobster/rock crab fishery and promote resource conservation with clients, using the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' approved publication like Underwater world and stock status report available on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website: Reports and Publications.
  • 8. Department of Fisheries and Oceans personnel and observers may accompany the vessel for the purpose of monitoring the operation.
  • 9. Every holder of a licence issued under section 52 of the Fisheries (General) Regulations, or designated operator, shall carry the licence at all times while engaged in any activity to which it relates and shall produce it on the demand of a fishery officer or fishery guardian.
  • 10. Compliance with the Fisheries Act and the regulations made under the act is a condition of every licence.
  • 11. The license is valid for the period indicated on the licence, and may not be issued as a replacement licence to another operator.

For further information:

Area Director
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Eastern New Brunswick

Area Director
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Prince Edward Island

Area Director
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Gulf Nova Scotia